To network or not to network
So today I got yet another letter someone had sent to my advisor requesting applicants, and it's a good place, so I figured I should go ahead and do it. They asked for some information that none of the other places asked for, as such, so I was going through some old material I had from when I met with a (mostly useless and extremely overpriced) career coach.
One of the things she had me do was make a list of potential contacts at various places where I was considering applying. I was supposed to then actually contact these people and make sure they know who I am, so when I applied they would help me out (because, the theory goes, they would have been immediately won over by my obvious charm and be glad to help).
Anyway so I ended up actually contacting only a few of these people, but those were all for purely scientific reasons and all turned out great. Looking back at this list, a lot of these places aren't advertising for someone like me this year, yada yada, so there are reasons why it makes no sense to contact the people I originally had listed.
Now I'm wondering if I should be looking up more appropriate people, banging on doors and saying, "Hey, heads up! I'm applying to your department!" .... or something to that effect.
Thing is, it's really not in my personality to self-promote quite that much. My cover letter comes across as confident, that's true. But cold-calling (even over email) seems a bit much to me if I can't come up with some other relevant excuse. Sure, I could do it, but I would feel squeamish and otherwise embarrassed at being so incredibly pushy.
Wouldn't I? Isn't it pushy?
I'm thinking about this because I'm a bit sick of doing experiments that are mostly frustrating, and not hearing anything back about the (gigantic pile of) applications I already sent. Should I be doing more? Will I hate myself more if I do it, and play politics (or attempt to, anyway) or if I don't do it (and miss the chance)?